Puget Sound Energy offers rebates from time to time. It’s odd to imagine that an energy company would pay you to use less electricity but that’s what you get with a non-profit organization sometimes. It’s better for everyone in the community if everyone does their best to limit the amount of energy wastage. Visit PSE’s rebate page here.
Why does a utility company pay you to reduce your power usage?
It might seem strange to think a utility company would do this, but remember, a city or state run utility company is – to all intents and purposes – there for the benefit of the inhabitants of the city. Less energy usage means the power bandwidth capacity they do have is under less strain in peak usage times. If, for example, there is a cold snap, it’s understandable that people will want to use more power to warm their homes. The better their windows keep in the heat, the less power they need to use, and the less strain there is on the local grid. The same goes for heat waves. As more people turn on their air conditioners, the more need there is on the power source. Well insulated windows keep the heat from entering the home in a number of ways:
Leaky windows let cold air in during the winter months, and hot air in when you’re trying to keep your house cool and comfortable. In addition to that, heat can travel by conduction. If you’ve ever accidentally touched a stove top heating element, you know how quickly heat travels through matter. Every window is made of frame and glass combined. In the old days of single paned windows, a home’s heat would quickly travel through the glass – even if the entire window was perfectly airtight – costing the owner many dollars if, indeed, they had heating or air conditioning. I remember as a child growing up in a house that had single glazed windows and no central heating, ice formed on the bedroom windows on the inside of the glass pane.
How does installing new windows help my heating bill?
Then came multi-glazed windows. First double-glazing, and later triple-glazed windows. There may be more than three panes solutions out there, but I have not heard of them yet.
Double or triple glazed windows are not simply two or more panes of glass separated by a gap. They are sealed units contained – usually – a gas of one kind or another that provides a service above and beyond what plain old air can provide. It can add more heat insulation through reduced conduction and radiation. Conduction is when heat travels through a medium like the glass, air or your hand. Radiation is when ultraviolet and infrared light, as well as visible light, carry their energy in wave form through the glass and into or outside your home. If you’ve ever shone an infrared lamp on your skin, you can see that it can transmit a lot of heat but without much visible light needing to also be transmitted. Infrared light, if it is strong enough, can warm your skin – or newborn chicks in a cage for that matter – without giving you sunburn. Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet light in sufficient quantities. You can get sunburn from other wavelengths outside the visible spectrum, but short of being caught in a nuclear war or an atomic reactor accident, you are unlikely to be affected by much beyond ultraviolet wavelengths.
Every year, new window products come on the market. They seem to get better and better, with the occasional big jump bringing super benefits to consumers. One area of continuous advancement is windows’ insulation abilities.
Another major element of any window is, of course, the material they use to construct the window frame. If it were a simple steel frame, it would still conduct heat relatively quickly and easily. Even with multi-layered glazing, a poor window frame might defeat or seriously undermine the savings earned by the multi-glazing. The window frame is a crucial factor in the insulation of your house. Today, window frames can be made out of vinyl. Yes, the same material – more or less – as that which was used to make long playing records before. It’s a lot tougher than the stuff they used to make records, but it does belong to a big family of materials called vinyl.
Vinyl window frames came out a couple decades ago. The first ones were troublesome, being unable to hold their weight, and would bow under pressure or in heat. The first manufacturers had to step back and rethink their strategies after making good on a lot of sales to unhappy customers. Newer, stronger versions of vinyl window frames emerged, and now, they are possible the best insulating material you can use in a window frame. They also bring a number of other advantages including flexibility, durability and suitability for use in conjunction with other materials. They keep their original shape for longer than wood frame windows do, and provide a premium level of insulation, not just with regard to heat, but sound.
Rebates are better than discounts
The great thing about rebates is, they have little to do with the company you hire to install your new windows. You can still negotiate a great price and get great windows installed, then turn around and receive a check from your local energy company.
Before you sign up for any window installation, be sure to verify that you are are, in fact, entitled to the rebate. Make sure your house, your location, and the windows you have chosen meet the requirements before any work is ordered. You may also have to apply before you get the work started.
Sound insulation is one of the best benefits of installing new windows
As window frames and units age, they spring leaks, gaps and generally decline in their ability to keep out sound. If you’ve been living in the same house for a long, long time, you probably don’t even notice the gradual increase in ambient noise coming from outside. When you install new windows, one of the first things you are likely to notice – unless you are living in a desert type setting – is the sudden drop in that ambient noise level. It will be so quiet, you may not be able to sleep easily. For me, the noise insulation is one great reason to upgrade your window. The heat insulation and the rebates are a bonus.
See you next week!